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Community Projections: Noah Lowry

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I started Waiting for Boof after the 2002 season, where a typical post read something like this:

Okay, folks. I think we can safely assume the pitching staff in 2006 is going to be something like:

Jesse Foppert, 24-4, 2.56
Jerome Williams, 21-9, 2.89
Kurt Ainsworth, 19-8, 3.21
Boof Bonser, 17-10, 3.44
Ryan Hannaman, 12-10, 3.88

So, with Jose Cruz, Jr. and Todd Linden combining for 60 homers a year, and Edgardo Alfonzo not quite starting his decline yet, it seems like the Giants aren't going to need much help. They could probably fill in the blanks with some free agents, but the big pieces will be in place. Now, this is a worst-case scenario, so imagine if they catch some breaks!!!1!

Things didn't work out. It was easy to picture Brian Sabean jumping into a vault of pitching prospects, and bathing in them like Scrooge McDuck did with the gold and money in his vault, but there were a couple of things wrong. First, the image of Sabean scrubbing himself with scores of foot-high twenty-something pitchers is fairly appalling. Second, the march from prospect to big league pitcher is a long and steep one. There are five different former Giant prospects up there, and all five are with other organizations just three years later. Williams is the only one to find any sort of success in the majors so far. The Giants didn't have pitching depth; they had a hologram of pitching depth.

In 2002, the news of only one Giant prospect breaking through to be an above-average pitcher would have been disheartening. Not really surprising, as the perils of young pitchers were never a secret, but it would have been a disappointment. I privately predicted one almost-ace, one above average pitcher, and one injury casualty from the Foppert/Ainsworth/Williams troika, though I didn't guess as to specifics. One prospect did break through to help the Giants, but it was Noah Lowry. That wasn't part of the plan detailed in my faux-post of 2002, but it certainly takes some of the sting out of the rest of the disappointing bunch.

Lowry is the best minor-leaguer developed by the Giants in 20 years. Where others have failed, he has succeeded. It was certainly a surprise, but a welcome one. The drought ended, and the Giants were finally able to develop an above-average hitter. Now, on to his pitching.

Lowry is also one of the better pitchers to come out of the minor leagues for the Giants in quite a while. When he came up in the last half of 2004, it was his changeup that impressed. With an average 89/90-type fastball, he lived off of the change. It was his strikeout pitch, his setup pitch, the pitch he used to get ahead of hitters, the pitch he used when he was behind hitters.... Changeup, changeup, changeup.

The changeup wasn't quite as devastating to begin last year. That, coupled with National League hitters better prepared for his style, led to some first-half struggles. He did what any pitcher would do: turned an iffy curveball into an occasionally devastating hammer that often looked like something out of Baseball Simulator 1.000. Lowry had one of the best months a pitcher has ever had, and finished the year with some impressive stats, considering:

Lowry at All-Star break: 5-9, 5.07
Lowry, all of 2005: 13-13, 3.78
In 2004, he started poorly in AAA, and then caught fire in the majors for the second half. In 2005, he started poorly, and then caught fire for the second half. Pattern or coincidence? My vote goes to coincidence, as I love that the kid has proven an ability to strike out major league hitters, and I think this is the year he maintains consistency from April to October:

Noah Lowry

ERA: 3.30
IP: 214
K: 185
BB: 60
BA/OBP/SLG: .270/.290/.400